Several Valley communities host national police relations event
Tuesday, August 2 marks National Night Out, a time to promote partnerships between police and the community.
At a time when building trust is crucial, local cities and townships hosted their own gatherings to build trust with law enforcement.
"The younger kids, it's nice to have them out here so they can interact with the police and know that we can be their friends and we're not going to hurt them," said Mark Skowron, Patrol Lieutenant with Austintown Police Department.
Communities like Austintown, Liberty and New Middletown hosted their National Night Out event Tuesday. Police tell 21 News it's one of their favorite nights on the year that has lasting effects on the community.
"You get a better understanding of the police of the job they do," said Shawne Wilfong, Coordinator of Austintown's National Night Out. "People can talk to them and they can even find out about a career in law enforcement."
The event is for local law-enforcement and first responders to interact with the communities they serve. Police tell 21 News it's important to mingle with the public and gain a better relationship with the community.
"Majority of the time police are in situations where it's not the most friendly or happy encounter and we want to change that perspective for nights like this," said Jim Marco, Patrolman with Liberty Twp. Police Department. "We want people to come out and enjoy their time with police and first responders and get to know everybody. See that everybody's human just like them."
This event isn't just for kids. Local law enforcement said these events are great for adults to communicate with their local law enforcement and get to know them better.
"So, that people learn to interact with the police and not be afraid to call," Skowron said. "They have to understand this is what we do for a living and they pay us to do this so we like to have that kind of input."
"Kids like to see what policeman go through their neighborhoods and what firemen are at the station near me," Wilfong said. "So they know who they are."
"Our agency is very community froward," Marco said. "We love events like this and wish we could do more throughout the year."
Both Austintown and Liberty organizers said the events continue to grow every year and say it's essential for the community to have this night.
"We need more events like this," Marco said. "This brings the community together. Residents, businesses and first responders. It's all one important piece of family."
The National Night Out was introduced back in 1984. Some communities here in the Valley have been hosting their events for close to a decade.